Kentucky - Local Government

In Hiring, Kentucky's County Officials Can — and Do — Turn to Relatives

Nov 13, 2015

When a federal judge asked Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ six deputy clerks in September if they would abide by his order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the lone objector had a conflict beyond any on religious grounds.

Nathan Davis is the 21-year-old son of Kim Davis, herself the child and deputy of the previous county clerk. She hired Nathan in January onto the low rung of her payroll at $12.50 an hour. And while Nathan Davis is otherwise another desk worker in an innocuous county office, he symbolizes a phenomenon that has deep roots in Kentucky: nepotism.

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Constables in Kentucky have been around for over one hundred and sixty years. But however necessary the county-level job may have been in 1850, some lawmakers today believe it's no longer relevant. Others maintain constables free up law enforcement for more pressing work and provide an additional set of eyes and ears for police and sheriff's departments. Now, Senate Bill 30 is under consideration in Frankfort. The measure would allow counties more latitude to decide what constables do. SB 30 began life, however, as a constitutional amendment that would've abolished the office.